By VINCENT PERSTAD
The Spartans headed out to their second meet of the new year against the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) on Saturday, January 21.
Freshman sprinter, Aaron James, proved his worth by making fast times at his first midseason meet in December and hoped that the meet against FIT would give for an even bigger drop in time.
“I went 20.9 in the 50 freestyle and 46.9 in the 100 freestyle. Even though those aren’t bad times I hope to go faster this upcoming meet,” James said before Saturday’s meet.
James clinched the top time for the 100 freestyle with 44.54 seconds at a meet in the beginning of January, which is a B national swimming cut.
To put that into perspective, the 2016 Olympic Trials Swimming cut for the 50 and the 100 were respectively 20.2 and 44.2.
“When you have a great team to cheer you on and great coaching staff, best times become the least of my worries,” James said.
FIT having an outstanding swim season with a 5-1 overall record, but James is not overly concerned.
James scored 16 points for the team and although he didn’t make best times he is still satisfied with his performance.
“A 47.2 in the 100 free isn’t a bad time for it not being a meet that we rest up for,” James said. “I wanted to go a little faster in the 50 free but a 21.4 will have to do.”
UT’s swim team includes multitude of swimmers from all across the world. Martin Hammer, a graduate student pursuing a Master’s in psychology is from Norway, and still has this spring semester of eligibility. He is currently one of the four holders of the NCAA Division II record for the 200 freestyle relay.
“I’m not that worried about the outcome of the meet because if we just keep doing our best and keep our heads up no matter what happens, then we will win,” Hammer said before Saturday’s meet.
Hammer’s best 50 freestyle time and 100 freestyle time this year have been 20.14 and 44.56 respectively, which are both B national time swimming cuts.
“We go really hard in practice to uphold the Spartan standard of never giving up,” Hammer said.
The Scandinavian graduate student swam a very good meet, scoring 33 points total for the Tampa Spartans and as a result finished the meet with three first places and one second place.
“I went 20.3 in the 50 and 45.8 in the 100 which is good considering the wind that’s been blowing nonstop, so now let’s really gear up for conference.”
Another swimmer, sophomore Nick Tinucchi, will be helping the team in the distance events Saturday, January 21, specifically the 500 yard freestyle and the 1650 yard freestyle, also known as the mile.
“I heard they had a pretty good team last year, but most of their good swimmers graduated last year after their winter season 2016 so we’ll see how they do,” said Tinucchi.
Tinucchi made best times in the mid-season meet in December of last year with his top best time being the 1000 freestyle where he went 9:32.
“I know they have a few good distance swimmers left,” said Tinucchi. “I saw on their roster that they still have another year of eligibility before they graduate which intimidates me a little but not too much.”
Tinucci ended up scoring a total of five points for the team in his second place finish in the mile as well as a fifth place finish in the 500 yard freestyle.
“I came in at 16:40 in the mile and then 4:52 in the 500,” Tinucci said. “Not the best I’ve done, but certainly not the worst.”
With a four win streak so far, the Panthers at FIT had been having a really good season, but the question still remained if the Tampa Spartans were going to make it a 6-1 win for the Panthers or a 5-2 Loss for the Panthers.
The Tampa Spartans took the win and scored a total of 328 points against 194 for FIT.